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Miami Marlins: Defending Jeffrey Loria

Thursday November 22nd, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  What the Marlins had to do this offseason is horrible. Last year, the Marlins raised the hopes of the fans with a rejuvenated logo and uniforms, a new stadium, and most of all a new-look team. Last winter, Marlins management made a commitment to the fans to provide a contending team for the years to come. They went out and signed Jose Reyes for seven years. He and Hanley Ramirez were supposed to serve alongside Giancarlo Stanton as the core of the team for almost the next decade. To build on the Reyes signing, the Marlins also inked pitchers Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. Ozzie Guillen also jumped aboard and was set up to be a lovable manager. With this spending spree, the Marlins brought a lot of excitement to South Florida and were supposed to be a major contender in the NL East.

Unfortunately this was not the case. The Marlins quickly faltered and Ozzie Guillen was immediately under the spotlight for his comments about Fidel Castro. Fans were already calling for Guillen to be fired. The team’s performance was not helping. I personally attended the second home game at Marlins Park against the Astros. Although it was against the Astros, any team that spends as much money as the Marlins did in the offseason should have a packed house at their second game of the season (in their new stadium!). The stadium was full, but not sold out. I was hoping that this was not a sign of things to come, but it was. The Marlins continued their spiral downward and talks of trades began. Heath Bell was the opposite of what the Marlins signed him to be and lost his job as closer. Both Reyes and Ramirez slumped. The Marlins needed to make some moves.

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The Cleveland Indians: Fairweather Fans or Cuyahoga Faithful? The Lowest MLB Home Attendance

Monday August 13th, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  “Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steam rollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

That quote is from my second favorite baseball movie (if you want to know my favorite, ask me on twitter) of all-time “Field of Dreams.”  James Earl Jones’ character is telling Kevin Costner why he shouldn’t and won’t need to sell his farm in order to pay the mortgage on the property.  The whole movie, Ray (Kevin Costner) is being told that “If you build it, he will come.”  Ray plows down half of his corn crop in order to build a baseball field because I voice tells him to.  In the end, it ends up being his father that he ended up building the field for.  Ray always yearned to have one last catch with his deceased father and this field gave him the ability to do that.  Baseball is a connecting sport.  It somehow has the power to connect one generation to another.   Read the rest of this entry

Ballparks Are Using Gimmicks to Attract Females and Children

Monday February 6th, 2012

Douglas “Chuck” Booth (Baseball Writer)- At first you might say, what are baseball teams doing to our classic baseball parks?  After a few minutes of thinking you will realize that your team is in business to make money just like every other multi-billion dollar industry.  I am talking about ‘Gimmicks’ at the baseball yard of course.  They are often there to attract more casual female fans and children into walking through the turnstiles.  From a Ferris Wheel in Detroit, to increased kid/mom interactive coloring stations that are located in almost every park, these gimmicks give the casual fan something to spend their time doing at the ballpark.  I consider myself a hard-core fan, so does this kind of thing bother me?  Absolutely not… and I will tell you why.When I arrive at the ballpark, I am there to watch baseball only!   I usually have traveled a long distance, spent a considerable amount of money, time and effort in order to watch these games from the stands.  So what do I care if the stands are not full with people waiting for every pitch?  To tell you honestly, I would rather the casual fans spend more time in the concourses occupying themselves, rather than disrupting anything in my realm of vision for the baseball game. Seeing kids throwing temper tantrums is normal in any public place, so if they are not in their seat while having a conniption fit- that is great.

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How Important Is Attending a Baseball Game in Person?

Sunday February 5th, 2011

Sam Evans: In recent years, with modern television developments making it easier and easier to watch games from your couch, fans haven’t felt as much of a need to come out to the ballpark. They’re missing out on so many aspects of the game and nothing beats watching a game at the ballpark on a sunny day. Speaking for myself, there are four reasons why people stay home and four reasons people go the games.

First of all, why people decide to watch the game at home, from the comforts of their living rooms.

Reason #1- Cost: Baseball games are not inexpensive, and with our country’s economic stature, it’s getting harder for people to afford attending a baseball game. On the other hand, despite it’s cost, almost everyone already has cable television, or even a radio, to track the game.

The current unemployment rate in American is 8.3%. While this might be the highest it has been in three years, the distribution of wealth amongst Americans is unbalanced. With the cost of all the food at the game, including tickets and parking, you’re usually spending over a hundred dollars.

Let’s say you’re an average baseball fan looking to take your two friends to an Angels game. Before anything, you need tickets. A normal seat along the third base line costs $50, so before you’ve even stepped in the ballpark, you’ve already spent $150. Add in hotdogs, beverages, and parking, and that’s about $200. There are cheaper seats (you can get a ticket to an Atlanta Braves game for only $6) but most people want a better view of the action.

Reason #2- “It takes too long, and going to games is inconvenient”: This idea is commonly used among business people. They say that with the three hours they spend at a baseball game, they could be doing something more productive.

Reason #3- Distance: This is a more acceptable reason for some people. If you live far from the ballpark it increases the difficulty of attending a Major League game. The good thing is, unless you live in Grass Creek, WY(945 miles from the Mariners, 948 from the Royals), you can find a MiLB or MLB team near your location that you can follow and make at least a yearly trip to their stadium.

Reason #4- Team’s success: The five teams with the lowest average attendance in 2011 were Oakland, Tampa Bay, Florida, Kansas City, and Baltimore. These teams’ combined record was 377-433. If your team is losing games, the ballpark isn’t as electric as it is for a team competing for a playoff spot. This is understandable, but you could at least go to watch the other team.

There are so many reasons to go to baseball games, but I want to focus on the main four.

Reason #1- The Ballparks: Unlike almost every other professional sport, every major league ballpark is different. From the swimming pool at Chase Field to the Green Monster at Fenway Park, every stadium is unique in its own way.

Reason #2- The Players: In my opinion, to truly judge a player’s talent and skill, you need to see them in person. It was awesome two years ago, when Stephen Strasburg drew big crowds wherever he went, just so people could see him pitch. Any scout will tell you that in order to construct a firm opinion on a player, it is best to see him in person.

Reason #3- The Fans: Baseball has better fans than any other sport in the world. At games, you can find every type of baseball fan. At every game, there is the, “I don’t care who’s playing, I’m wearing my Yankees hat” fan. There’s fan with the smeared team logo washable tattoo on their face, and of course, the fan who, apparently hasn’t been to a game since 2003, because he keeps asking why Marcus Giles isn’t on his All-Star ballot.

Fans are another part of what makes baseball games fun. They are important to the culture of baseball, and they always will be part of what defines the game.By staying at home, you miss out on the opportunity to interact with other people while watching the same games.

Reason #4- “The Oasis”: People from foreign non-baseball countries often have trouble understanding why baseball is America’s pastime. The real reason why baseball is so important to America is because every baseball game is surreal and nostalgic.

Nothing can beat the moment when you walk in the ballpark and you’re greeted by the fresh aroma of the peanuts, hot dogs, and freshly cut grass. Then, once you get to your seat, and you take your first glimpse at the field, memories fill your head. Memories of your youth and childhood, and how innocent it all seemed. When you look out over the field, you remember how badly you wanted to be one of those players.

Then as you sit under the sun (hopefully), the game begins. You see how much the players care about their jobs, but how they still realize how lucky they are to be playing a game. The game gets more exciting inning by inning, and when it finally ends, nobody ever says they just wasted three hours.

Every time you return to the ballpark, it truly is like taking a vacation from your hectic life. In the middle of your city, you can take a break with 30,000 other people, to enjoy a simple, but yet so complicated, game. The players display the skills that they’ve spent their whole lives developing.  These huge patches of bright green, meticulously maintained grass, in our concrete monsters of cities, is what keeps us coming back.

Why people need to keep coming to baseball games is best summarized by Terrence Mann in, “The Field Of Dreams,” when he said,

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

It is so beautiful in this rugged world, that we still have a place where we can go to watch grown men play the game we all love. Baseball is far from a simple game, but anyone that’s been able to attend a game can see why we love it. Baseball is, and always will be, forever.


**Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us onTwitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click hereand follow the link at the top of our homepage.

What Is The Future Of The Tampa Bay Rays?

Wednesday November 30, 2011

Sam Evans: Ever since the Rays organization eliminated mistakes from their front office, and combined traditional scouting with advanced numbers, they have produced a winning baseball team in the hardest division in baseball. Unfortunately for the Rays, nobody in Tampa Bay noticed. The Rays have only finished in the top-ten in attendance in the AL twice in their fourteen years of existence. Tampa Bay has the ugliest ballpark in baseball, and now the only question is: How long will they be able to stay there?

What the Rays have done in the last five years is extremely impressive. They have won the division twice and won the wild card once in the last five years despite having the second-lowest payroll in all of baseball. The Rays have discovered market inefficiencies and taken advantage of them. For example, after the 2010 season, the Rays let their top relief pitchers leave in free agency, and they not only received draft compensation, but they easily replaced them in 2011. Also, signing young talented players to long-term deals has been a huge factor in their success. Overall, the Rays have found ways

The Rays have no reason to worry about their on-field product. The team is 368-260 in the last five years, and they show no signs of stopping their pace. They have more pitching depth than almost any other team in baseball, and Evan Longoria is signed through 2016 in what is one of the most team-friendly contracts in all of baseball. Despite having a winning ballclub for four straight years, the Rays are barely filling half of the stadium’s capacity per game.

Low attendances lead to a low payroll, and while the Rays would certainly like a larger payroll, they have still managed to be competitive within the AL East. The new CBA will hurt the teams with the lower payrolls around the league, but it will hit the Rays especially hard. They will no longer be able to take chances on international free agents for a low-cost and they will still be competing with the Red Sox and Yankees revenues.

The main contributor to the Rays low attendance has been the stadium. Tropicana Field is, by far, the worst stadium in baseball. It is the only domed stadium in baseball that is not retractable. The blueprint for the stadium was not well thought out, as evidenced in the catwalks that hang down from the ceiling. The bullpen is are almost nonexistent, and the interior design is the worst in baseball. Not to mention, the ballpark is not at the center of the city’s population unlike most other ballparks in baseball.

After the 2011 postseason, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said that he was disappointed about the future of baseball in Tampa Bay. That is a very bad sign for Rays fans. Sternberg is not a bad owner, and has shown dedication to making the Rays a more popular franchise in Tampa Bay. The Rays have tried everything to get fans to come to the ballpark, from Vuvezelas to a touch tank to a new enlarged scoreboard. Sadly, none of those techniques have worked to this day.

The Rays technically are signed through 2027 according to St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster. This contract that the Rays have with the city states that the Rays cannot enter discussions with other communities. However, with the right lawyer, the Rays would be able to escape this lease agreement. If the Rays can’t find a place to build a stadium in South Florida, then there are many cities that would love to host a Major League franchise. If the Rays are forced to move, then Las Vegas is the perfect fit. It is very sad to watch a team not be able to sell out a game in the ALDS.

I really feel bad for those devoted Rays fans. Living in Seattle, I had to go through the process of losing our hometown basketball team, the Sonics. It was a very similar situation where you could sort of sense the relocation coming. The stadium was not up to par, and the league was impatient. I’m not sure if baseball will ever thrive in Tampa Bay, but I am definitely rooting for this organization to find a way to boost attendances and keep their team in Tampa.

 ***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter (@MLBreports) and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Strasburg-mania Back With a Vengeance

September 6, 2011


 

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer- MLB reports):  The day so many people (namely the entire Washington Nationals organization) have been waiting for is finally upon us.  Stephen Strasburg, ultra phenom, who I covered his rehab here last week at the Reports, started against the LA Dodgers.  The hype that was produced was incredible, with every major US sporting website having a headline dedicated to Strasburg-mania. The twitter hashtag #MerryStrasmus has been coined and millions of people are tuning in to watch his first start since Tommy John Surgery.

Strasburg is a big, strong kid who is known for his tremendous work ethic.  It comes as no surprise that he was able to begin pitching less than a year after getting the surgery.

The weather today in Washington DC was wet and dreary, so manager Davey Johnson was close to pulling the plug on the start if the game was even delayed.  The Nationals wanted to make sure Strasburg had enough time to warm up and be ready to pitch in the game.  When the tarps were taken off the field around 6:45pm, Strasburg was in the middle of his warm-ups.

Dee Gordon led off the game with a double, but after that, Strasburg didn’t see any trouble the rest of the way.  Matt Kemp grounded out softly in between fly balls by James Loney and Juan Rivera in the first inning.  The second inning was vintage Strasburg, as he threw 3 fastballs between 95 and 97 mph with run and sink, then threw a change-up at 90 mph that Andre Ethier swung over for strike three.  Aaron Miles was then disposed of with a  99 mph heater, and Rod Barajas hit a lazy fly ball to center field.

The fourth inning saw Strasburg get two more strikeouts and give up a single to Rivera.  Gordon and Rivera’s hits ended up being the only two base runners against Strasburg.  His outing ended in the 5th inning after a fly out, ground out and foul out.

Strasburg was dominant. His 4-seam fastball was  95-99 mph throughout his 56 pitch outing, 40 of which were strikes.  His 2-seam fastball had great late life, sinking late and inducing ground balls. Only 6 breaking balls were thrown, and although they were pretty sharp and late breaking, it was clearly his 3rd best pitch.  Breaking balls are usually the last pitch to come around after Tommy John surgery, because pitchers don’t start throwing it until later in their rehab.

Strasburg’s final line reads as follows:

5IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 4K.

My pre-game prediction was:

5IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 9K.

Aside from the strikeouts, I was pretty close.  Strasburg is such a rare talent, that a rainy and cold Tuesday night game against a non-contender such as the Dodgers drew over 5,000 more fans than their average season attendance.

Strasburg-mania really hit Washington on a cold, damp Tuesday night.  If he continues to pitch like this, the Nationals could be close to contending in 2012, but more likely in 2013 when Bryce Harper could be in the field on an everyday basis.



 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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